Labor Department Study Says Volunteering at 10-Year Low



February 26, 2014; U.S. News & World Report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been conducting studies of the rate of volunteerism in the U.S. since 2002, and its study this year shows that rate to be the lowest to date at just 25.4 percent. Neither the Bureau nor the Corporation for National and Community Service were able to explain the drop. Judging from the chart below, the decline began to be recorded in 2006.


Part-time employed Americans volunteer at even higher rates, with 31.7 percent volunteering last year, compared to 26.8 for full-time workers, 24.1 for the unemployed, and 21.9 percent for people outside the labor force. On the other hand, although those not in the labor force volunteer at lower rates than people who are employed, when they do volunteer, they put in 65 hours annually, where full-time-employed people only volunteered for a median of 44 hours.


The biggest declines in volunteering were noted among those with bachelor’s degrees or higher, from 42.2 percent in 2012 to 39.8 percent in 2013. In terms of age, volunteering among 55- to 64-year-olds saw the biggest percentage point decline, from 27.6 to 26 percent.

Again, you can read the results of the study here, but we are interested in your impressions. Are you noting a decline in volunteerism in and around your organization?—Ruth McCambridge

  • William Henry

    The Corporation For National and Community Service most recent report does show positive trends among younger volunteers —

  • Beth Wonson

    Yes, the organizations I consult with are noticing less available volunteers.

    We attribute it to:
    -Retirement comes later if at all.
    -Retirees are caring for grandchildren (either full time or helping their working children).
    -Retirees are healthier and involved in sports or travel.
    -More competition for volunteer time.

    It motivates us to be more professional in our recruitment, clarity of expectations, community development and training of volunteers.

  • Jackie DeCarlo

    Our food center Maryland has fortunately seen an increase in volunteerism in the past year. We draw from the typical pools of retirees, part-time workers, as well as students needed community service credit, and citizens who need to pay back their debts to society.

    Jackie DeCarlo
    Manna Food Center